How Can We Create Jobs? – 2017

(This is an expanded version of a piece I wrote over four years ago. The U.S. economy is better now than it was then, but the question is still important.) — In 1992 James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, famously coined the phrase, “The Economy, Stupid.” The phrase went viral as it was transformed into, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Today, in 2017, many observers claim that Carville’s slogan still applies. “It’s (still) the economy, stupid,” a lesson the Democrats failed to remember. Continue reading How Can We Create Jobs? – 2017

Parasites on the Working Poor: The Payday Loan Business

In the last few years a sure sign of declining economic capabilities among the working poor has been the proliferation of “payday” loan businesses. Here in Wisconsin, the state in which I live, these businesses have sprouted like weeds in every small town across the state. The growth of the payday loan business is viewed by many to be a national problem and it is coming … Continue reading Parasites on the Working Poor: The Payday Loan Business

Our Insanity About Guns

The Republican dominated Congress of the United States has now condemned the United States to a kind of living hell. The U.S. Senate voted last week to reject the expansion of background checks for guns purchased online  and purchases at gun shows. That means the only solutions the Congress, the National Rifle Association, and the motley assortment of Republican presidential candidates can offer to remedy … Continue reading Our Insanity About Guns

Our Unintelligent Intelligence “Services”

Recent security breaches at the White House have focused attention on the failures of our security and intelligence services. The poor performance of these organizations is not new. And while opposition politicians act as if these failures just started under the Obama administration, I can remember a number of them from years past in my own lifetime. The examples that follow vary in importance, but … Continue reading Our Unintelligent Intelligence “Services”

Wrecking ball labeled "politics" destroying a monument to civility

How Can We Save Democracy from Our Own Irrationality?

Recent studies confirm that when people holding false beliefs are confronted by facts contradicting those beliefs, not only do they fail to reject their false beliefs, but they believe them even more strongly than before.* Philosophers, political scientists and social psychologists have long noted the irrational aspects of human nature. Nonetheless, one of the cornerstones of classical democratic theory is faith in reason. The focus … Continue reading How Can We Save Democracy from Our Own Irrationality?

A map showing the location of the Ivy League schools

Political Sociology 101: Matching Colleges with Career Aspirations

On a day to day basis most of us don’t think too much about presidential cabinets. Yet, they are important. And, they are filled with highly talented people. But how does one get to be a member of a presidential cabinet? Where do these people come from?   Perhaps being selected has something to do with one’s college alma mater. On this hunch I decided … Continue reading Political Sociology 101: Matching Colleges with Career Aspirations

Phot of U.S. Capitol at night with captions: The Shutdown is Over. The Debt Ceiling Has been Lifted. - Until we do it all over again in 90 days.

When Politics Become Personal

Now that the latest manufactured political crisis is over, we can breathe easier for a couple months. We don’t have to worry about the government being shut down or a default on U.S. debt – until the next set of deadlines in about 90 days.  Are we are supposed to feel good, until the crowd in Washington decides to do it again? And chances are … Continue reading When Politics Become Personal

How Much Does a Cup of Coffee Really Cost?

Starbucks charges about $1.85 for a single medium sized (Grande) cup of coffee. That price is at least 600 times the amount received by the person who picked the coffee used to make that cup. It is about 50 times the amount received by the coffee grower who hired the worker to pick it.  Between the coffee retailer and the coffee grower there is a … Continue reading How Much Does a Cup of Coffee Really Cost?

Power house worker adjusting a steam pump

How Can We Create Jobs in the U.S.?

As we approach the end of this campaign season, both candidates are talking about jobs. It’s about time. The employment outlook is still bleak. Unemployment is running around 8.5% nationally, and is much higher among the young and minorities. It appears to me that neither Democrats nor Republicans have advanced any truly convincing ideas of how to create good permanent jobs for the currently unemployed. … Continue reading How Can We Create Jobs in the U.S.?

Shanghai, China - Pudong District Skyline

Who Benefits When China “Cheats”?

In this election season much has been made of the claim that China cheats economically, and because of this, we in the United States are worse off. Mitt Romney has made China’s cheating a major talking point of his campaign, and President Obama has recently filed trade violation actions against China at the World Trade Organization. For those who may not have followed these issues … Continue reading Who Benefits When China “Cheats”?

Arghandab Valley near Khandahar, Afghanistan. Credit: 

The Massacre at Kandahar

In the never-ending cycle of tragedy we see daily in the news, I find it difficult to react appropriately to one event before the next one leaves me numb. Ever since the news of the massacre at Kandahar, allegedly committed by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, I have wanted to write something meaningful about this atrocity. But how can anything be said that meaningfully captures or … Continue reading The Massacre at Kandahar

El Fracaso Económico de Corea del Norte

La muerte de Kim Jong Il invita comparaciones entre la Corea del Norte y la Corea del Sur. Donald Marron, un catedrático de economía y escritor para Seeking Alpha (, publicó ayer en su blog la gráfica siguiente, la cual compara el PIB per cápita de las dos economías desde los 1970’s. La diferencia entre las tasas de crecimiento es dramática. Aunque no podemos visitar … Continue reading El Fracaso Económico de Corea del Norte